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Ten days: how we imagine climate change

This decade has been called the “critical decade” for action on climate change. Decisions that we make in the years up to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change, and the impact it will have…

Aerosols such as this smog over Mexico City have helped keep temperatures down. What would happen if they were cleaned up? Flickr/brian.gratwicke

This decade has been called the “critical decade” for action on climate change. Decisions that we make in the years up to 2020 will determine the severity of climate change, and the impact it will have on society.

But communicating the urgency of climate change has proved problematic, for two reasons. First, the very existence of climate change has been regressively reconstructed as a pseudo “debate” in much of our mainstream media, and secondly, those who live in cities are so sheltered from its reality.

Second, imagining climate change is so difficult for those who live in cities. We are disconnected from experiencing it by our built and virtual environments. Our cars, our homes, climate control, the private comforts that we take for granted, allow us to bunker-in and not have to worry about what even the weather is doing, let alone climate.

Our culture of speed and “instantaneous time” also makes it difficult to imagine the incremental reality of climate change. Increasingly we are time-poor, living in a perpetual present which demands that we forever accelerate our behaviour. Speed is equated with efficiency, and our busy-ness demands that we should “find” time for leisure.

Unless you are a gardener, instantaneous time makes it so much harder for city people to imagine climate change, unlike people who live on the land, or by the oceans, or are from cultures with strong memories of the past. For these people, even small changes, like shortening seasons or climate shifting polewards along with species of fish, plants and insects are more likely to be noticed.

But for people, urban and rural, more imperceptible is a paradox that is at the core of dangerous climate change.

It is that, at any given moment, the magnitude of climate change is greatly under-estimated. This is because of the industrial emissions of aerosol particles – a human-made “albedo” which reflects solar radiation away from the earth.

Just how much these aerosols (as opposed to natural albedo like reflective icesheets, glaciers and volcanic ash) are masking the warming that would otherwise be happening isn’t entirely known yet. Complicating the forecasts is that albedo aerosols co-exist with black aerosols, such as diesel emissions which increase global warming.

A satellite mission designed to measure albedo, known as the “glory mission” failed to reach its orbit in 2011, and NASA has not been able to follow it up since. In the meantime, forecasting based on observation is still very accurate, but what we don’t know precisely is how much more warming we would get without the aerosols.

Fossil fuels may emit CO2, but they also emit aerosols. Flickr/Jamie_Potter

Estimates based on a combination of scanning, and meteorological laboratory tests suggests the influence could be as much as 50% mitigation.

So herein lies the problem. Let’s suppose all emissions were to stop tomorrow … what would happen?

According to a 2009 peer-reviewed paper on carbon residence times by leading climate researchers, global warming would continue to increase because current levels of CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, even with the ability of plants to recover much of that carbon.

The residence time of the carbon has already committed us to warming approaching 2C, which would certainly be surpassed if greenhouse gases continue at current or greater levels.

But here’s the twist.

If all emissions were to stop tomorrow, so would the output of those human-made aerosols reflecting radiation back into space. These aerosols have a residence time in the atmosphere of just ten days, meaning that after just ten days it would be like increasing CO2 emissions by 50%. It kind of makes reducing CO2 emissions to 5% off 2000 levels by 2020 seem rather pathetic.

Ten days, a time-horizon that people in the city should be able to relate to.

If this were to happen, the likelihood of the positive feedbacks that are triggered by warming, such as more abundant water vapour, natural albedo loss (like melting ice an glaciers), extensive firestorms, and methane pulses, would be greatly enhanced.

Because current carbon policies are ignoring aerosols and the effect they have, targets may be dangerously ineffective. Much more urgent and radical targets are needed to avoid dangerous climate change, as even radical targets will still require a period of quite harsh adaptation as the planet sweats out the effects of unmasked CO2 already “in the pipeline”. If we subtract the masking effect of aerosol we must face up to the fact we may already be committed to 2C.

Right now is the critical decade for action, followed by many more decades of trying to live with what we have done.

This article is the final of three articles on how we imagine climate change. The first two are here and here

Join the conversation

91 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. James Whitmore

    Editor at The Conversation

    Comments are welcome but please stay on topic. The topic is communicating urgency and climate change.

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    1. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to Trevor S

      Trevor S, why are you reluctant to identify yourself. I give no credibility to people who don't truthfully identify themselves. It is even one of the principles of these pages that you do identify yourself by your real name. Quite frankly, these pages are so badly soiled by anonymous trolls that I feel it is past time that we should ignore these sorts of posters.

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    2. Ian Alexander

      Reader

      In reply to Trevor S

      Very sad that this guy is given any credibility. He has no scientific training and is clearly too arrogant and/or stupid to learn. Typical of many old white privileged male businessmen.

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    3. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Trevor S

      Complexion rather than complex would seem to have it in this case, David appearing to have been out and about without any aerosol protection to the extent there may have been some frying done or did Emma just have the blow torch too handy!
      Maybe he is more trying to say that what he sees as communication issues are to mere mortals information overload.

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    4. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Trevor S

      Well "Murray told the ABC’s Lateline he believed there had been a “breakdown in integrity” in the science of climate change. & He said he had seen no evidence of “integrity” among climate scientists."
      Who cares what Murray believes, or the size of his 'blind spots'? He's entitled to his beliefs, but he isn't entitled to his own facts. Of which he provided ZERO to support his idiot beliefs. On that basis an apology and public retraction should be done, or whoever he has offended should take legal action against him personally for Slander and Defamation in the Courts. I really hope they do. The man is clearly incompetent to speak on the matter.

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    5. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Greg North

      Information overload, combined with bitter arguing and abuse and extremely dodgy politics, and people just switch off.

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    6. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      If people choose to not be part of the solution, then they are part of the problem. Better for all concerned that they do switch off.

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    7. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      If we could legislate lies about the science out of the media, bitter arguing about the science wouldn't be such a big problem. Pity about the science illiterate government we now have. We've never had a world government to legislate progressive policy, but this is what we need. How can we communicate the urgency of legislative change, when corporations have the power to dictate policy. Countries who are acting, need to become more punitive using market forces to ensure others like ourselves stop dragging the chain. I suspect this will happen.

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    8. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      "If we could legislate lies out of the media" Shock, horror!

      If lies were legislated out of the media, we wouldn't have election campaigns, and nor would there be any point in ministers having press conferences.

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    9. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to James Whitmore

      David, you said---"For these people, even small changes, like shortening seasons"------The BOM ---Australian climate extremes--Time series graphs----index of Growing season length-----since 1955 to 2010 , the growing season length (days) has increased from 212 up to a trend line of 230 days. There is obviously a wide variation in seasonal length, but the BOM has shown an increase . Thought you would like to know-----

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    10. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Trevor S

      My grapevines are ripening earlier every year. They don't have brains, they react on heat. You have a brain and can tell my grapevines that they are wrong.

      I think my brainless grapevines know more than you.

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  2. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    two parables: the frog in a pot of water and the scorpion and the fox crossing the river.

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      yes parables, where Murray is the scorpion. His brother is Rupert. And their cousin is Barnaby Joyce et al. Leopards can't change their spots either. :)

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  3. George Takacs

    Physicist

    Thanks, David, for an interesting article. I wonder also about any effects of aerosols not related to radiation transfer. Do they for instance have any impact on rainfall distributions, or other aspects of climate? Are these effects advantageous, deleterious, dependent on location?

    These are all just rhetorical questions, prompted by thinking of geo-engineering as I read your article.

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to George Takacs

      I'll answer the rhetorical questions. 1) Yes 2) Yes all three. Next question? :)

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  4. David Rennie

    IT Consultant

    The only event that will unequivocally demonstrate the reality of Climate Change is the disappearance of the Arctic summer sea ice. Every thing else is still, theoretically, still in the range of natural variation.
    Urban voters may not be as aware of gradual changes because they are isolated by the built environment but rural voters are more sceptical because they are more used to natural variation. There is possibly greater scope to change the views of rural voters with facts because their businesses depend on it.
    Urban deniers who do not accept the facts now, are unlikely change their views based on new extremes in natural variation.
    Once the arctic summer ice sheet disappears that will be an event outside 'Natural Variation', and at least some of the deniers may reflect on that reality.
    If the PIOMAS estimates are reasonable this will occur later this decade. This is bad news for the planet , but perversely good for addressing the issue.

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    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to David Rennie

      "rural voters are more sceptical because they are more used to natural variation"

      I get "the climate has always changed" when I try and instigate debate locally (rural Northern Rivers are of NSW)

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    2. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Trevor S

      The advantage we now have with the rural community is that science can show that the climate is changing in one direction.
      Towards more heat, dryness and less growth.
      Towards less regular rain and more extreme rain.
      Towards more fire prone days.
      Surely this is information that rural communities should recognise, accept, and act on, by voting for parties that seek to reduce these changes.

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    3. Ewen Peel

      Farmer

      In reply to David Rennie

      Good article and highlights some of the lessor known issues of the climate debate.
      Rural people in general and not ignorant of climate change but probably more skeptical of some of the facts and claims made about it.
      We see change all the time and every season is different and we have to make decisions based on what we know, what we expect to happen, and try to grow a product that is in demand when it reaches maturity and is harvested.
      Most farmers will only ever get about 30 - 50 chances at…

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    4. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Rennie

      There was an article just a few days ago that stated whereas Summer 2013 was predicted to have the Artic sea ice free, there had actually been an increase from 2012.
      Far too early for a trend reversal but if it hovers around a low point for a few years and then picks up, maybe we had just better have China becoming more and more the planets workshop to keep pumping out the albedo aerosols so as to maintain things like libido.

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    5. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Rennie

      I was rather taken myself about city slickers with limited scope for imagination compared to rural/coastal people and yet I'd hazard a guess that most climate change addicts are likely to be city living under aerosol umbrellas.
      On the other hand, rather than having the country cousins recognising change trends, those with the years of experience will be able to relate to regular sustained drier periods, many floods and bush fires etc. and how the climate does change on a cyclical basis.
      It is that type of backgrounding that will then make communicating what many would see as a minimalistic trend very difficult.

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    6. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Rennie

      Sounds about right David. Some folks will still ignore the Arctic ice free zone, and I feel it will occur closer to this decade the the current IPCC commentary suggests. But they are and need to be 'conservative' on such matters. Arctic ice has been my own canary in the mine for almost a decade and i have watched that closely and put most of my hobby time into keeping up to date with the facts. The other fav issue for me is the global oceans and collapsing fish stocks. Partly by over fishing certainly…

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    7. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Trevor S

      Then answer, no, you mean the weather has always changed. The global climate has been stable for 10,000+ years throughout the Halocene with only a few exceptions. The current speed of climate change now is unprecedented in rate going back millions of years to before the dinosaurs. That is why Climate scientists have been studying the present to thoroughly. It's UNIQUE for our Planet since humans evolved upon it. (won;t work, but what the hell, say it anyway.) cheers

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    8. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      GN re: " Summer 2013 was predicted to have the Arctic sea ice free" man you have already been shown this is a BLATANT MISREPRESENTATION on TC and yet here you are repeating your LIE all over again. Reported it to James. James please sort this out based upon "evidence" not ideological denialist activism and the reading comprehension and mental limitations involved.

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    9. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Greg North

      depends on whether the increase relates to "surface ice" and not "mass", i.e. the depth of the ice.

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    10. Gil Hardwick

      anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

      In reply to Ewen Peel

      Thanks, Ewen, except you missed one key element in the equation which is not concerned with when you put in your crops but where. The blokes over here move around a lot, putting in crops in different places depending on the year.

      A very large part of the problem we face is headlines on "record" hot dry months declaring Australia as a whole, while over here in the west the past few years have been generally cooler and wetter. Right now we have more metropolitan wetlands hosting waterbird colonies…

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    11. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean, first of all, why do half quotes, the full quote being:
      " There was an article just a few days ago that stated whereas Summer 2013 was predicted to have the Artic sea ice free, there had actually been an increase from 2012. "
      And here is the article link:
      https://theconversation.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing-19605 , Ross James being the one who made the comment re Artic Sea Ice.
      It would seem as though the summer decline has not been to the extent of what occurred in 2012 according to
      http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/.

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    12. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Greg North

      The point is - as the article you refer to makes clear - that overall ice mass is declining - significantly. Only one thing can do that - more heat being retained by the planet. So what's your point?

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    13. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      Changes nothing that I said before Greg, You're full of it. I know it, you know it. Not hard for anyone else to work it out. Your choices are yours alone. <shrug>

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    14. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,
      There probably was an article making this statement however as you have not given us a reference it is impossible to assess whether the author was misquoting earlier reports or simply repeating the same denialist meme that you are.
      What we can say unequivocally, is that the research misrepresented in the statement did NOT make that claim. The research reported on the BBC News in 2007
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7139797.stm
      stated that "northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years.". "Could be" is a vastly different claim than "will be".
      This is a classic example of why it is difficult to get the message across to those who do not follow the subject closely. As long as you, and other deniers, continue to misrepresent the science, cherry-picking half-truths that support your misrepresentations the general public are entitled to be confused.
      The question is why you wish to keep repeating these known untruths.

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    15. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,
      As I observed, rural voters are probably more aware of weather variations than city dwellers and are therefore more sceptical about the science.

      That is why we need to demonstrate that the trends behind the science are no longer cyclical but are climbing in one direction.
      We have always had bushfires, but now we have measures of the fire danger, and these indices point to a world where the fires are much more likely to be dangerous when they break out.
      We have always had droughts but…

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    16. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Sean,
      I agree that the disappearance of Arctic sea Ice is now likely to occur this decade. However it will not be a trigger for change UNTIL it occurs. Pointing out it will probably occur doesn't equate to imminent danger in the eyes of people who are only half listening to the discussion.

      The cod fisheries are an excellent example of the self delusion that can be acheived by the deniers. Right up to the day the Canadian government banned cod fishing, fishermen were still proclaiming…

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    17. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Gil - you make a BIG claim ".... that per-capita climate impacts are actually in decline"

      Really?? Can you substantiate this? Have you any evidence? (hint: the repetition or plural of anecdote is not evidence)

      Or is it yet another of your sweeping generalisations that climate change is not an issue - that you always fail to back up with any evidence?

      The fact that Munich Re - one of the world's largest re-insurers are taking real action - putting their money where their mouth is - suggests…

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    18. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Rennie

      David, I am not denying anything and as for no reference, three hours prior to you posting that I had posted
      " Sean, first of all, why do half quotes, the full quote being:
      " There was an article just a few days ago that stated whereas Summer 2013 was predicted to have the Artic sea ice free, there had actually been an increase from 2012. "
      And here is the article link:
      https://theconversation.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing-19605 , Ross James being the one who made the comment re Artic Sea Ice.
      It would seem as though the summer decline has not been to the extent of what occurred in 2012 according to
      http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/. "
      Now, I have not agreed that there has ever been a prediction of no summer sea ice in 2013, that having been Ross James and all I have posted is the article I referred to and a link re the extent of sea ice in 2013.

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    19. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      Lets see, If we stop emitting aerosols now, (which we will eventually have to do), in ten days there will be a rapid rise in the worlds temperatures .
      Current atmospheric CO2 is 750 GtC,
      CO2emissions to date are roughly 305 GtC
      Economic carbon reserves are about 4000 GtC
      But lying in wait for extra heat to be applied to the earth, is an extra combined 18,000 GtC from permafrost, high latitude peat lands tropical peat lands, vulnerable vegetation, and methane hydrates and clathrates from the sea floor. Which will heat the earth further.
      http://www.parliament.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/372266/09_Glikson.pdf
      It may be tiring to talk about, but this is what the fuss is about. We have never been here before.

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    20. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,
      The statement " There was an article just a few days ago that stated whereas Summer 2013 was predicted to have the Artic sea ice free, there had actually been an increase from 2012" is a direct quote from you in a response above.

      The article you refer does not make that claim. A commentator made the claim. You have attributed his claim to the author of the article and repeated his claim without checking the evidence. This is how denier myths spread because the people who choose to repeat them do not check the facts and give the comment the same relevance as the article.

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    21. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to David Rennie

      Hi David, Greg N was given the exact same info ("Could be" is a vastly different claim than "will be". ) several days ago already by yours truly. He ignored it, or didn't see it, or doesn't want to see it. Simply letting you know. :)

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    22. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Mr North will follow the usual practice of those in denial who post here - not have the courage nor the ability to respond to the refutation of their claims (hardly surprising since they have no evidence to support these claims). Mr Whelan below is another classic example of this.

      They will ignore the evidence that is presented, refuse to learn and simply re-appear on a different thread spouting similar denialist unsubstantiated rubbish.

      And of course continue to beg the question here - the urgency of more focused response to reducing emissions

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    23. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Thx Mark. You may find this video worth a squiz. It's a year old now, and yet only had 3240 views. Go figure! http://youtu.be/KumLH9kOpOI One of the best "overviews" of the hard truths I have ever seen! Professor Kevin Anderson is highly credentialed and expereinced in this subject matter. Enjoy. :)

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    24. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dr Mark, um, great minds think alike (or more correctly are in tune) I beat you to it. With a little editing to suit. :)

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  5. John Whelan

    logged in via Facebook

    There has been no Global Warming of any measurable kind in the past 15 years so there is absolutely no need whatsoever to make any panicked changes to our way, or standard, of living in the present decade. Climate Change remains to be proven as the science is definitely not settled. Not a single global temperature projection, used as the basis of several and current IPCC reports, is even close to being accurate based on highly accurate temperature measurements over the past 15 years. Unfortunately…

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to John Whelan

      Laughable untruth. None - of any kind? What then, pray tell, has been responsible for the disappearance of ice mass globally in the past 15 years if not increased warming?

      http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators

      Does someone pay you to repeat these false myths or are you really just that ill informed?

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    2. Mike Jubow

      forestry nurseryman

      In reply to John Whelan

      John, you are demonstrating your natural ability to be scientifically illiterate. For Petes sake, read the real science reports. If you don't understand them, don't display your ignorance on these pages.

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    3. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to John Whelan

      "There has been no Global Warming of any measurable kind in the past 15 years"

      and so it begins... where do you get this kind of thing because it's not from the Climate Scientists, you know those people that study Climate. Let's here what they have to say about that

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=047vmL6Q_4g

      "this myth is based on a misunderstanding of the Science"

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    4. Ian Alexander

      Reader

      In reply to John Whelan

      John

      Who are the 'climate lobby'?
      What is their grand plan?
      Who is part of this world-wide conspiracy?

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    5. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to John Whelan

      John ,
      Can you justify your claim that only 34 % of people accept the reality of climate change.
      What relevance has such a statement when the science is unequivocal.
      Should we stop informing people of the truth because people like yourself make simplistic inaccurate statements that are not supported by scientific evidence.
      You can make as many absurd claims as you like however the temperature record over the past 20 years is well within the parameters of ALL the climate models. In fact some experts are demanding that so called sceptics explain why the temperature has not DECLINED over the past 15 Years given the fact that every factor except CO2 has suggested we should have a significant DECLINE in temperature since 1998. Every decade over the past 50 years has seen declines in temperature as part of a long term warming trend. This decade is no different.

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    6. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, not that I wish to or need to defend John but lets just look at what he and you have claimed in an analytical manner.
      First off, two things are clear, one being the plateauing of temperature increase for the last decade or so and secondly, yes Artic sea ice has been disappearing during that time.
      Quite obviously, the warmer it is, the more likely ice will melt and with a temperature of a sustained level it will keep melting.
      So in fact what you both say can be true, the temperature for melting…

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    7. peter whitehead

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to John Whelan

      2010 appears to have been the warmest year since the the Eemian Stage of the Pleistocene - that was between 130,000 and 110,000 years ago.

      The current rate of warming is tied into the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere, and this change is unique within the Holocene.

      you seem to have been seriously misled

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    8. peter whitehead

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Trevor S

      I often ask folks like him a simple question:

      What other bits of science do you think have been made up in response to corruption?

      Particle physics?

      Genetics?

      The search for Exoplanets?

      Please name ANY area of science (NOT from climate science) that is fraudulent, and explain your reasons.

      so far NO-ONE has even made an attempt to answer, which suggests they actually know almost nothing about how science works, they just keep on with this one-tracked theme.

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    9. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to David Rennie

      David, you are doing a pretty good job of communicating what climate change can be all about.
      " In fact some experts are demanding that so called sceptics explain why the temperature has not DECLINED over the past 15 Years given the fact that every factor except CO2 has suggested we should have a significant DECLINE in temperature since 1998. "
      There are even experts that would claim not everything is known about climate change despite the IPCC report stating there is 95% certainty etc. and that…

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    10. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to peter whitehead

      Peter, John did not dispute that we have plateaued at a time of high temperatures and indeed there have been regular reports on how most of the hottest days of the past half a century have been within the past fifteen years even if regionally there can be variations from that.
      What John was saying is that there has been no further significant warming during this recent plateauing time.

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    11. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to John Whelan

      With respect John but there is no truth in your comments. Factually incorrect in so many ways it's not worth addressing. Your mind is clearly made up. What a pity you are so misinformed about the facts you believe you know. this may help though: Fallacies & Semantics
      "Tweedledee, 'If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic.' " Lewis Carroll http://esgs.free.fr/uk/logic.htm
      "In philosophy, a formal fallacy is a pattern of reasoning that is always wrong. This is due to a flaw in the logical structure of the argument which renders the argument invalid." Ref: http://goo.gl/TZweCk http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)
      Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments: "Fallacious arguments usually have the deceptive appearance of being good arguments." Ref: http://goo.gl/waB1D8

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    12. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      RE: " but it could be a sign of some balancing within nature if not a plateauing in cyclical action" .. yes it could be but it isn't. That's a fact. Please stop spreading irrational beliefs as if that equates to the actual Science knowledge already possessed by Humanity. IPCC AR5 WGI Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/#.UnRMN_lmh8F Try actually reading this material before making your uninformed pronouncements based upon personal beliefs and lack of…

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    13. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      Oh dear, "the IPCC report stating there is 95% certainty" and THAT is only on a few specific statements proven now to be unequivocal. meanwhile the IPCC reports, all of them are chock full of anything from unproven, unknown to less than 10% likely, to 40-50% certainty, to 85% likely, to 30-60% likely, to more work needed, and all the way this is OUTSIDE the scope of the IPCC to comment upon. Please do STOP verballing the people at the IPCC who do not say you and so many others falsely claim that they say endlessly. Read the document, read it, note definitions pages as well to get the CORRECT understanding of the science and what they actually say .. PLUS what it really means.

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    14. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      GN ... and read the article by David Homes again and go and research science papers only about the various issues he raises. No thought bubbles please. Read the research, not the newspapers, not the blogs, not videos by Monckton etc nor comments by incompetent ex-Bankers and Politicians unqualified for purpose.

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    15. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Greg North

      What an unmitigated load of rubbish.

      1) Mr Whelan did not refer to atmospheric temperatures (which have not, in fact, declined or even plateaued - see the data at Nasa - at best you can see the rate of increase has declined a little and decade on decade there is no decline)

      2) "Warming" refers to the increased heat being retained by the planet - the signs of which are abundantly clear in sea level rise, ice mass disappearance and increased oceanic heat content as well as atmospheric temperature increases.

      Your attempt to appeal to little recent variations as some sort of sign is laughably infantile - it certainly isn't science. A real engineer would understand what "trends" are

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    16. David Rennie

      IT Consultant

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg,
      Most scientists acknowledge that not EVERYTHING is known about climate change. Most also confirm (97% in fact, according to 4 seperate studies) that we know enough about the influence of CO2 on the atmosphere to be as certain as we can be that climate change is occurring as a consequence of fossil fuel emissions.

      As for the computer modelling, it was robust enough in 1988 to provide prediction that are still accurate. It has got better and the range of variation has got smaller since then…

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  6. Paul Felix

    Builder

    Firstly I would like to thank the conversation for the many articles supporting the science of global warming, well done.
    The context of how to communicate this lies in an experience I had in a shop that deal with business supplies, so a bigish shop in a small town (Hobart).
    The owner railed about the fact that Australian has become communist because
    We allow conservationists to express their views
    We allow migrants (not simply refugees)
    We allow foreign investment (not selective - all)
    So when communism becomes redefined to describe capitalism and when the free market become a socialist plot how do we generate community support for dealing with issues that have time frames of decades and with something not as obvious as a LCD TV. I don't know.

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    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Paul Felix

      I suppose you could say Paul that communism and capitalism are bedfellows, even if strange ones for if you think about our welfare policies etc., even our education to secondary level and medicare, there is something of communism in all of that and without the endeavours of capitalism we would not as a nation have the revenue to fund the communist aspects of the nation.
      Obviously, it will be what sort of balance we have as a society and how various communities, sections of them and even individuals fare in the balancing act that will determine views as you found in Hobart, Tasmania btw long known as a beautiful place to visit but also having its own development issues that are not unaffected by conservatives, unemployment and what investments occur or do not occur.
      Life is complex, climate change not so simplistic and then communication difficulty can be like compounding interest when you are paying it rather than benefitting from it you could say.

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  7. peter whitehead

    logged in via Twitter

    We may be lucky, but - the climate has switched in the past more quickly than we might imagine. How our civilisation would adapt to that might be an important question.

    One of the first palaeoeclimatologists and palaeoecologists (about 60 years ago) was Russell Coope who studied ice age beetles. They turn out to be excellent temperature proxies.

    He showed that climatic shifts - recorded in changes in the beetle communities layer by layer in glacial and interglacial deposits - can happen much…

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  8. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " Because current carbon policies are ignoring aerosols and the effect they have, targets may be dangerously ineffective. "
    It is not as if the reverse has not been considered for there has been talk of Sulphur spraying the atmosphere is it?
    I remember once there was a report that showed a temperature hiccup in the days following 9/11 when there was a mass aircraft grounding and I do not know if there were similar readings hiccups when that Icelandic Volcano let loose over a couple of weeks a few years back.
    So should we be promoting volcanic eruptions, doing some drilling and setting off a few nukes to bring on premature eruptions or just putting some form of sulphur intensifying additive into jet aircraft fuels to keep all that aerosol airborne, perhaps even adding it to all auto fuels or at least conducting a trial to see if it can aerosol the upper atmosphere too.
    Here we are beating heads against brick walls from both sides and yet the answer may well be above the brick walls.

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Greg North

      Thought bubble = "So should we be promoting volcanic eruptions, doing some drilling and setting off a few nukes to bring on premature eruptions or just putting some form of sulphur intensifying additive into jet aircraft fuels to keep all that aerosol airborne, perhaps even adding it to all auto fuels or at least conducting a trial to see if it can aerosol the upper atmosphere too."
      60 years of Science = Stop emitting GHGs ASAP ... or else the shit will really hit the fan in coming decades.
      IPCC…

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  9. Sean Arundell

    Uncommon Common Sense

    Well done David.
    "According to a 2009 peer-reviewed paper on carbon residence times by leading climate researchers, global warming would continue to increase because current levels of CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years" [...] "If all emissions were to stop tomorrow, so would the output of those human-made aerosols reflecting radiation back into space" and thus cooling the atmosphere UN-naturally .... now you're talking the truth of the matter hidden behind the media spin and…

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  10. Gil Hardwick

    anthropologist, historian, novelist, editor and publisher at eBooks West

    In urgently communicating climate change, David, you still haven't responded to the core question, So what?

    Inland people have been living with the extremes of this continent for over 200 years now, and have long adapted to routine catastrophe.

    When I ask, So what?, as I have done too many times here, what I plainly mean is what does anyone need to do that's different in some substantial way from what we've been doing all along.

    That's the question that needs to be addressed here because…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      @Gil, re: "and have long adapted to routine catastrophe." and " what I plainly mean is what does anyone need to do that's different in some substantial way from what we've been doing all along. ... That's the question that needs to be addressed here because that's what people need to know."
      Well I think it is very important to realise the planet's ecosystem is far larger than the inland where you currently live. Second that the impacts in a changing climate system (yes having various degrees and…

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    2. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      PS Gil re: " what we find out here in the population is growing cynicism, weariness, learned helplessness."

      TOUGH - They will need to deal with that, or succumb. Each to thine own self be true.

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Gil Hardwick

      So What? I'll refer you this 23 minute Video Gil.
      Kevin Anderson 'Rhetoric to Reality' EcoCities conference at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 14 May 2012
      http://youtu.be/KumLH9kOpOI

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  11. Geoff Henley

    Research Associate in Health Statistics at Flinders University

    “According to a 2009 peer-reviewed paper on carbon residence times by leading climate researchers, global warming would continue to increase because current levels of CO2 will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, even with the ability of plants to recover much of that carbon.”

    The resident time of CO2 in the atmosphere used by the IPCC is based on the flawed Bern model. There is evidence that resident times may be as little as 14 years.

    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/biochemistry-professor-explains-why.html

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  12. Brandon Young

    Retired

    Once again a thread descends into the same pattern of “debate” from perspectives along the Left versus Right spectrum, regardless of the cues from the article.

    One of the two main points is about Thinking, especially in "instantaneous time." No comment on this point, no thought or contemplation, just see that the article is about climate change, and jump straight back into the ego games.

    We need to face up to the reality that the population is no longer able to think enough to act in its own self interest. We need to accept that the rational thinking of the Left is now being dominated by the irrational thinking of the Right, and that the suburban majority in the middle are using whatever is left of their intellect to pursue the deluded self interest of consumer lifestyles.

    The important question is “How might we find new ways to get a clear majority of people to accept the basic idea of climate change and to demand effective action, given that their minds are switched off?”

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  13. MItchell Lennard

    Researcher - Distributed Energy Systems

    Hi David,

    Thanks for having a go at this topic. I am not sure that I agree with your contention that the communities failure to come to term with Global Warming is because of the orchestrated campaign and because city dwellers are in some way disconnected from the environment.

    The orchestrated campaign is very shallow and it would have no traction at all if the community had the science explained to them in a more comprehensive and accessible manner.

    Given the consequence of Global Warming…

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    1. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Is News Corp credible, reliable, ethical or functional? Is it "fit for purpose' as part of the 4th estate, a critical pillar of a functional modern healthy Democracy?
      Latest News regarding a Criminal Conspiracy Court Case here: http://goo.gl/i0veFG
      There's truism in Business Management I learnt decades ago: "Given enough time and opportunities for advancement every single Manager will ultimately rise to his own level of Incompetence."
      Australia's role is as a disruptive economy, Rupert Murdoch…

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      Thanks for the post Sean. Murdoch is as flawed as any person, but probably isn't used to being talked to as an equal. His thoughts about class warfare, probably have just as much to say about past feelings of alienation. He seems to have become what he feared once. I think he displays a little too much hatred for it to be anything other than unresolved issues.
      I'm not so sure Australia is as egalitarian as it thinks. Now more a pretension, based on past ideals.
      SDO, this is interesting, I'll read this tomorrow thanks.
      I'm a gardener, I think about what a 20, 50, or 200 year drought would look like. The Sahara, was the result of localised climate change and over grazing etc., this will probably happen to a large part of Australia. The topic of this article is how to communicate the seriousness of climate change. I don't know the answer. There are too many stupid thoughts about it.

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    3. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      Hi Alice, if there is any truth to the recent TV dramatisation Rupert may have felt excluded from the elite/establishment of the 1960s even though he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Early life experiences and beliefs formed at that time usually last a lifetime. We are all conflicted in some form imho, and yet it does not need to last forever.
      Open source url: Social Dominance Orientation: A Personality Variable Predicting Social and Political Attitudes PDF http://goo.gl/foaCnk or http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/3207711
      Re: " how to communicate the seriousness of climate change." try this on for size Alice - 'Rhetoric to Reality' http://youtu.be/KumLH9kOpOI 25 minutes of clarity? :)

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    4. Sean Arundell

      Uncommon Common Sense

      In reply to Sean Arundell

      The Age of Illusion: Egalitarianism vs Meritocracy (short extracts)
      An Interview with author Chris Hayes. His new book, Twilight of the Elites, has a theory about why everything is going to straight to hell. The culprits aren’t the typical cast of Republicans, fundamentalists, and rednecks. It’s the Meritocracy that did it.
      The book is strongly influenced by the work of Christopher Lasch, whose 1994 book Revolt of the Elites presages many of Hayes’ arguments, and Robert Michels, an early twentieth…

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  14. R. Ambrose Raven

    none

    Look to some of these comments to see the ugliness and the nastiness produced by any mention of the need to work together for the common good. Note the ruthlessness and selective and self-serving messages of the anti-global-warming apparatchiki, or look to the denialists’ posts for bullying, domineering, and general intolerance. Denialists and haters may be common, but there isn’t anything good about them. Most are strangers to principle, and worse, are have a community of interest with other…

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  15. Elena Berwick

    Accountant

    The whole global warming scam was designed by smart guys to multiply their $ via investing into government subsidized programs.

    We see lots of examples when politicians have vested interests and initially create campaigns to scare people and convince them the whole thing is happening. Then these guys invest money into green companies and governments provide financial support to them. This support comes at our cost as we as taxpayers support the whole scheme.

    Then campaigns intensify to scare…

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    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      What scary is that apparently you believe the drivel you have posted.

      Apparently Nasa and every single national science body of credibility is in on the scam. But I'm sure you Elena - as an accountant - know better??? rotflmao

      http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators

      http://royalsociety.org/climate-change-summary-of-science/
      There is strong evidence that the warming of the Earth over the last half-century has been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and…

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    2. Elena Berwick

      Accountant

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark, there is no need to copy this scary stuff about this scam, I read it thoroughly a lot and also read lots of opinions of climatologists and physicists who say this is a scam.

      I just looked at this whole thing from the financial point of view and clearly see that some people, including politicains and some big businesses, have vested interests to organise such things and get our $. I can tell you exactly how they are doing this from the financial point of view.

      One more piece of evidence…

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    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Elena Berwick

      That's a lot of unsubstantiated rubbish. You have clearly NOT read any of the statements by bodies such as the Royal Society - that are actually composed of scientists who study climate.

      Please point to the "opinions of climatologists and physicists who say this is a scam" - while you are doing so - back it up with peer reviewed published science and evidence that they have produced to support their statements.

      You cannot because it doesn't exist. It has been clearly established that the vast majority of people who actually study the subject have concluded that AGW is real and a problem.

      You are seriously deluded or deliberately peddling falshoods

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